The Child by Fiona Barton

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I read The Widow by Fiona Barton when it first came out and it was definitely one of my favorite books out there. I was excited to see what the author would come up with in her next novel so I was super happy to have received this ARC! Here is my review:

When an old house is demolished, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton buried for years. When journalist Kate Waters hears this, she believes this story will turn out to be a great scoop. However, she needs more answers to her questions, especially the ones surrounding the identity of the baby. As Kate begins to investigate, she discovers a connection to a crime that occurred a decade ago: a newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward and was never found, leaving the parents devastated. But there is more to the story, and Kate gets drawn into the pasts of the people who once lived in the neighbourhood being demolished. And the more secrets she discovers, the more torn she becomes on what she can and cannot reveal.

I cannot begin to describe how much I loved this book! Just like in The Widow, the novel features a journalist who is amazing at investigating and putting together the clues; in fact, she does a better job than the police! I love how kickass Kate is; for once, the woman solves things and doesn’t just get pushed to the side. Kate doesn’t make stupid mistakes. She is perfectly capable of handling the situation and doing a competent job. This is one of the many things I love about the novel. Having a journalist as the main character was really awesome to see and gave me a really cool insight into the world of investigative journalism. This book was all about motherhood and the ways in which we see mothers in the world. This book also deals with sexual violence and can be quite graphic, so consider this your trigger warning. My main attraction to this novel was its focus on multiple women and the way they handled traumatic situations in their lives. I honestly did not see the ending coming until most of the clues were given to me, and the thrill factor was definitely ramped up with this story! My one teeny complaint would be that I wished that when they talked about the court proceedings, the author had gotten into more detail; it felt a bit rushed after this amazing drawn-out story. Overall, another amazing thriller from Fiona Barton that you definitely do not want to miss out!

Happy reading ~

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The American Girl by Kate Horsley

On a quiet summer morning, 17-year-old american exchange student Quinn Perkins stumbles out of the woods near St. Roch in France. She is barefoot, covered in blood, and unable to explain what has happened to her. What’s more, it is soon determined that the Blavettes, Quinn’s host family, has also mysteriously disappeared. With Quinn in the hospital and her memory gone, the idyllic village of St. Roch can’t help but wonder if the American girl was in any way responsible for the disappearance of the Blavettes. Boston reporter Molly Swift smells a story and travels to St. Roch to see if she can uncover anything here. Molly soon becomes close to Quinn and tries to prove Quinn’s innocence as she goes through a trial by media. But as Molly begins to unravel disturbing secrets, she is forced to admit that the American girl makes for a compelling suspect. Is Quinn really an innocent exchange student, or is she a cunning killer?

I really liked the premise of this novel. I’ve always wanted to go on an exchange program, but never had the time or opportunity to do so. After reading this book, I don’t know if I would want to go on one! I really enjoyed the narrative style of the author, with the switching between the voices of Molly and Quinn. I liked that parts of this story were told in blog format because that’s just an interesting medium to use. I liked the thrill aspect of it because I wasn’t expecting it to be as dark as it was, and it was really quite good. I thought that there were quite a few plot holes in the story that made it implausible, but other than that, I really liked the overall story and I don’t think anything suffered because of this. Overall, this was a high intensity, action-packed story that shows how small idyllic towns can hold really big secrets.

Happy reading ~

Unpunished by Lisa Black – Gardiner and Renner #2

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I requested this novel, I had had no idea that it was part of a series and that this was the second book. I usually try my best to read in order but I’ve been so busy with my school work that I knew I wouldn’t have the time to find the prequel and read it. I decided to just do my best, and give as informative an opinion as possible.

It begins with a most unusual death, the kind that makes headlines: a copy editor at the Cleveland Herald is found hanging above the newspaper assembly line, with a wide strap wrapped around his neck. Forensic investigator Maggie Gardiner is sure that this apparent suicide is anything but that – and soon the evidence suggests that this could be murder. With homicide detectives coming in to investigate, Maggie has little choice but to place her trust in the one man she knows cannot be trusted.

Jack Renner is a vigilante killer, with his own moral code. He uses his skills and connections as a homicide detective to go after the “bad guys” and take the law into his own hands. Everything was running smoothly… until Maggie found out about his secret. While Maggie has reluctantly made Jack promise not to kill others in the name of the law, he knows she doesn’t trust him. But with more newspaper employees winding up dead, Jack and Maggie must combine their efforts to unmask the killer.

After reading this, I can definitely say that reading the first book will be an asset in understanding and connecting with the characters in this novel. It was quite difficult in the beginning for me to keep all of the names straight and understand the relationships between the different characters mentioned. Eventually, the story took over and I got a hang of it all, but I never felt like I understood or connected with Maggie, Jack, or any other character in the novel.

That being said, this novel was certainly unique, and it is obvious that the author went to a lot of trouble in order to create a realistic setting. I learned a lot about the newspaper industry (maybe, a bit too much at times!) and it gave the story itself some character. The style of the writing and the way the characters acted reminded me of something from Law and Order or any other crime show; you’ve got a logical process by which murders are investigated, and all of the clues come together to form a cohesive picture. I quite enjoyed the story and the way it was structured! However, I will admit that it was a bit dry at places and I had to push myself at times not to lose interest.

Overall, this book was a good read with a strong plot. However, the characters lacked personality and the in-depth writing style, while creating a rich setting, can be hard to get through. I would recommend this novel for anyone looking for a solid detective story, as it is sure to please fans of this genre.

Happy reading ~

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

Before reading this novel, I had no idea of the historical significance of the Barbizon Hotel. Sure, I’ve heard about Sylvia Plath and Jaon Crawford, but I had no idea that they lived in a women’s-only hotel! This just made me more interested in reading this story (even though the story has nothing to do with any famous women)!

When Darby McLaughlin arrives at the Barbizon Hotel in 1952 to begin her schooling at a secretarial school, she is housed along with girls who work for the Ford modeling agency. It soon becomes clear that she stands out for all the wrong reasons; her plain features, and self-consciousness make her a pariah among her hall mates. Darby finds a true friend in Esme, a Barbizon maid, who shows Darby a whole new side of New York City, full of seedy downtown jazz clubs, with their addictive music and heroin. 

Over half a century later, the Barbizon has been turned into a condo, with the older female guests staying on in rent-controlled apartments. However, rumors of Darby’s involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid in 1952 still float around among the residents. The history of the building combined with this piece of gossip is too intoxication for journalist Rose Lewin to resist, especially once she moves into the Barbizon. As Rose begins to investigate deeper into Darby’s life, the ethical line begins to grow murky. What both women can be sure of is that life will never be the same for them after this. 

What an absolutely fascinating read! I loved everything about this story and was absolutely incapable of putting it down! Where do I even begin?

Well, first of all, I love the characters. Every single one showed me a unique side to New York City either in 1952 or in 2016. Darby, Esme, and Rose each have their own personality and voice, making them not only easy to distinguish but easy to connect with as well. I loved how each character changed throughout the story, and it was done so tastefully that it never felt as if one character shone more than the other. I liked reading about their interactions with others and the way in which their relationship to New York City itself changed as the story progressed.

I loved that the story continually shifted from past to present, and that I was able to glimpse life back in the 1950s, a time period that I am wholly unfamiliar with save for references in the book. The author did a fantastic job of making Barbizon come alive to the reader, even though I didn’t know the first thing about this historic building! It made me wish I could have gone and lived there during that time period and experienced everything first hand!

I enjoyed the romance aspects of the story, which is quite surprising since I usually don’t comment on this area. It was done right in this novel, both in 1952 and in 2016, and I’m not going to say another word on this topic for fear of ruining it!

I could go on and on about all of the wonderful things about this story! It is a tale about friendship, feeling at home in your own skin, and making difficult life decisions in the face of adversity. It talks about misunderstandings, trust, and the need to be loved by those around you. The author took these themes and seamlessly integrated a vibrant backdrop without taking anything away from the story or the characters, and for all of these reasons and more, this novel is going to get 5 stars from me!

Happy reading ~

Dancers in the Wind by Anne Coates

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hannah Webridge is a single mother and freelance journalist who makes ends meet by writing whatever articles she can get. So when a national newspaper wants her to write about the notorious red light district in Kings Cross, she jumps into action. Hannah interviews a prostitute who goes by the name Princess, as well as a police inspector, Tom Jordan. She gathers all of the information, writes her article, and sends it off to the newspaper, considering her task to be done. Hannah could never have predicted that Princess would arrive on her doorstep later on, viciously beaten and with no place to go. Hannah allows her to stay with her, but by doing so, she is drawn further into a world of deceit and violence. Multiple sex workers have been found dead and now Hannah is being threatened by forces that are much more powerful than she could ever imagine. Will she be able to expose the truth and stay alive? Or will her desire for justice lead to her ruin?

This book was a short and quick read but I did not enjoy even a minute of it. The story was not suspenseful at all; everything was easy to predict. I did not particularly like any of the characters – none of them seemed fully developed and Hannah, who is the main character in the story, is obsessed with her child to the point where I just want to throw the book away. I mean, how much can I keep reading about her sweet baby Elizabeth and her newfound motherhood joy?! The only character that I was intrigued by was Princess, and even then, her character was not given the development it so desperately needed. With a plot that was superficial and boring and a slew of characters I couldn’t care about, this book was definitely not worth reading for me.

Happy reading ~

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

I’ve decided to go with a brand new look for my blog to reflect my brand new outlook towards life. Hopefully, you all find it user-friendly. If you like it or don’t like it or have any suggestions, PLEASE PLEASE LET ME KNOW! I’m always looking for ways to make my blog more interesting and I would be happy to try to do so!  Anyways, let’s get started with this book review!

Alex Dale used to be a well-off journalist with a happy marriage. But when her destructive habits took it all away, she is left only with a newfound desire for routine and a few freelance writing gigs. Every day is a hassle to get through… until she meets Amy Stevenson. Amy is a remnant from Alex’s childhood, a girl who was found unconscious after a merciless assault and has been a coma for fifteen years. Everyone else in this world seems to have forgotten about her. But Alex remembers her now. And she is determined to find out what really happened to Amy and give this girl the justice she deserves. But has everyone really forgotten? Or are there people waiting for someone to go sniffing around, people who are afraid of the past and will do anything to keep it buried?

I quite enjoyed this book. I liked the protagonist a lot. Alex is someone you want to feel sympathy and pity for. But you also want to shake her and tell her to snap out of this mess and grow up. And I feel like she does, throughout the course of her interesting forays into the past. At times, it felt like the story wasn’t really about Amy or the mystery at all but rather about Alex and her inability to cope with life. Now, the actual mystery of Amy’s assault is not too hard to figure out and is quite sad, in all honesty. In light of the hundreds of stories of assault and crime we see in the news, hers is not too unique and is every bit as depressing and sad. I think the strength of this novel comes from its realistic perspective. Of course, Amy’s situation of being in a coma but still being conscious is unique and there were areas where the author took liberties. But the emotions throughout the novel and the plot all the way to the end…. it was realistic and believable and it sold the story. So, if you are looking for a good mystery novel with a protagonist like the one from The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, you should check this novel out!

Happy reading!

The Devil You Know by Elisabeth de Mariaffi

I’ve never been someone who has been partial when it comes to books. What I mean is that I don’t go out of my way to seek out books that have a Canadian background or an Indian background. But when I do come across a novel that is set in a country that I have lived in or know a lot about, I get quite excited. I was pleased to note that this one takes place in Canada (specifically the province of Ontario) and makes mention of notable Canadian criminals. It’s one of the reasons why I waited so long on the hold list for it!

In 1983, Evie Jones’ best friend was raped and murdered. The police, although having identified the man behind this crime, was unable to capture the criminal. Evie, being 11, was naturally traumatized by this event. Now, in 1993, she is trying to make it in the world of crime reporters. In the wake of Paul Bernardo’s arrest, Evie’s own obsession with what happened to her best friend takes over and she begins to probe deeper into the past to find the killer. And when she discovers that she is being stalked by someone, she soon realizes that the killer isn’t done with her yet.

This book was a major flop for me. The most interesting thing was the personal connection I had to the locations. When I finished the novel, I really couldn’t tell what the point was. Nothing had truly changed. There was a tiny bit of a conspiracy but it wasn’t something life changing. There was no mistaken identity or true danger at all. Like I said, it was pointless. It had a lot of potential and the teaser trailer made it seem so much more than what it ended up being so I was severely let down. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, not even if you’re bored out of your mind.

Happy reading ~